Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Can a typo in a URL cost you millions of dollars?

For years, Northwest Airlines has offered cheap deals every Wednesday. Savvy travelers can snap up a weekend getaway or other deal. Economists would love it: NWA fills empty seats, and customers get a bargain.

This week's deal offered a link with a typo:

Click to see full-size.

The URL that Northwest offered was:

visithttp://nwemail.nwa.com/W7RT04915C3FB90B322683DA087FE0

Obviously someone accidentally munged a bit of text -- "visit" -- with the URL prefix of "http". If you clicked on the link, you just got an error message. Of the millions of people who subscribe to NWA's Wednesday deals list, you've got to expect that thousands clicked on the link, and said "Oh, it's dead Jim" and moved on to some other surfing activity.

In other words, that little typo cost Northwest thousands of sales.

So you have to wonder:

  • I wonder how many thousands of customers gave up when their click on this URL failed?
  • I wonder how many seats on airplanes will be empty this weekend because of this typo?
  • I wonder how many millions of dollars NWA lost because of this mistake?
  • I wonder what changes in Web publishing procedures NWA will, or will not, now undertake?

Think about it: a typographical error could cost a company millions of dollars, and could keep thousands of people at home instead of at beach or mountain.

2 comments:

Jarex said...

Hi i need to ask a question to webmaster but i dont know where, my email is sonambolepticos@gmail.com, please email me.

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